Saturday, 31 December 2011

Oh no she didn't...

Oh yes she did!

This afternoon, my Mum, Izzy and I went to the panto. Panto 2011 = Treasure Island. Not quite the Cinderella that Izzy was expecting, but she had fun...and my Mum seemed to as well:

As fun as the panto might be, the ice cream in the interval is my favourite part. Honey & stem ginger... yes please!

Mum had the same as me, Izzy enjoyed her chocolate version...

The second half was better than the first half. No photos, but Izzy went up on stage (with lots of other children) to sing a song and got a sweet for efforts so she was very happy!

And while we were at the panto, the boys were having fun at home. Cool dudes huh...

Toby's new jacket, but most definitely Liam's hat!!

Right that's it from me this year (!). I've published a nice even 250 posts in 2011... let's see how many 2012 brings. Blogging is definitely more enjoyable now I've got a new laptop - no more tearing my hair out as my laptop crashes for the 5th time in one evening!!

I hope you've all had a lovely day and have a lovely evening,

Happy New Year! :-)

Last Day of 2011 + What's for dinner?

Can you believe it's the last day of 2011 today? It seems so weird to think we'll be in 2012 tomorrow. I've been trying to explain it to Izzy but I don't think she 100% gets it!

I hope you're all having a lovely last day of the year?

We're having a really relaxing day here. We were going to take the Christmas Tree down this morning, but Izzy persuaded us to keep it up for another week - we're going to "rejuvenate" it with the spare pack of chocolate tree decorations instead as it's looking a little tired.

Instead the children have been playing with lots of toys...

for a moment anyway, then they decided the box was much more fun!!

Toby is very possessive of "his" box - Izzy kept trying to get in there with him, but he would squeal and push her out, so she resorted to pulling him around the room in it instead!!

We just had a leisurely lunch/brunch (it feels like brunch food, and I hadn't had breakfast, but I suppose we did actually eat it at lunch-time!) of sweet potato hash (without the bacon, I added some smoked paprika instead)...

This afternoon Izzy and I are going to the local panto with my Mum. My Mum gave Izzy the tickets as her Christmas presents and she is so excited to go!

This evening, Liam and I aren't going out so I want to cook us a special meal once the children have gone to bed. I couldn't decide to cook, but this morning I was reading Sweet Life's recipe round-up and as well as the sweet potato hash above, I love the look of her Stacked Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas so I think I might cook those. I've got all the ingredients for it on hand anyway, and it looks delicious!

What are your plans for this evening? How are you spending the last day of 2011?

I'll probably be back with another quick post later as I realised last night that I'd written 248 posts so far in 2011 - this will be post 249, but it would be nice to end the year on a nice even 250! ;-)

Oh, and while I remember, I finally created a Facebook page for my blog. I haven't worked out how to put a button for it on here yet, but you can "like" it here if you want! is nice and easy to remember (for me at least!) anyway as it's the same as my Twitter ID.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Positive Thinking - Highlights of 2011

I've been doing a lot of random thinking lately. I've already been thinking about New Year Resolutions (which I normally don't think about until sometime mid-January!). I've been thinking about money issues - that's my main to-do list for the weekend, to write a budget out of all our incomings and outgoings, groan, not looking forward to that one! I've been kicking myself reflecting on my recent weight gain - I'll probably write a post soon, but it's proving harder to write about it than it is to think about.

But for now I want to focus on the positives - the highlights of 2011. I didn't start sharing photos of Izzy and Toby on the blog until about half way through the year, so I thought this would also be a good opportunity to post some new-to-the-blog photos from the earlier months.

Because my memory is not so good, I decided this would be much easier if I tried to remember highlights month by month. Conveniently I started this blog on January 1st 2011, so I'm hoping it will be a good memory aid!


Toby's 1st birthday - of course. Same as we will this year, last year we celebrated over 2 days as Toby's actual 1st birthday was Izzy's 1st ever day at school! The way we worked round it last year must've worked though, as Izzy wants to follow the exact same schedule for this (or really, I guess, next) year's celebrations!

The birthday boy - he looks so serious!!

New Birthday Bear + Bear Birthday Cake :)


We booked our honeymoon - I also tried to start a weight loss challenge which, inevitably, failed. The honeymoon was a success though!! :)

I received my first ever Goodness Direct order, and tried Conscious chocolate for the first time - haha, maybe this is something that only a blogger would see as a "highlight", but I hope some of you understand! Conscious chocolate is amazing, definitely a love that has lasted since then!


Pancake Day - a day when I just ate pancakes? Yup, that was a good one!

One major low in March was Izzy being in hospital - such a scary time, but I'm so glad she came out the other side just fine.

Brave little girl with lots of new teddies


Mothering Sunday - including receiving a cute poem for Izzy, and making a delicious parsnip and maple syrup cake to share with all the family.

Easter Weekend - including Good Friday hot cross buns, delicious carrot cake smoothie, Easter breakfast at the beach hut, and Easter buffet at my Mum's house (including Creme Egg Cupcakes, yum, I'd forgotten about those!!)

Ready to eat!
Izzy doing a good job of being a waitress
Toby liked hot cross buns

April also saw my Mum & I going to Exeter Food Festival which was fantastic. I'm already looking forward to going again next year!


When I think of May, the main thing I think of is that it is Liam's birthday and my birthday. Our birthdays are only 3 days apart so we usually celebrate together, and this year my sisters gave us a night away as an early wedding present so it was a lovely celebratory weekend!

Birthday breakfast in bed. If only this happened more often!! ;-)

We also celebrated 2 years since we got engaged, so it really was a month full of happy times!


June was quite a quiet month, but I did take part in a blog swap organised by Jemma at Celery and Cupcakes, which was great fun!


On the 2nd of July, Liam and I got married!! We also went on honeymoon to Barcelona which was amazing. All the posts about the wedding and honeymoon are linked under my Wedding tab, so you can find them there if you want to read more.

We finally printed out some wedding photos to put in a frame about a week ago...better late than never!!


Izzy's 5th Birthday was on the 1st August. She actually had her party the weekend before, at the end of July, as the weekend after we went on holiday to Woolacombe.

It was quite chilly whilst we were in Woolacombe, but Izzy and I braved the outdoor pool once!!


Liam got himself a new job in September. He actually found out on the same day that Izzy started back at school, so it was a day full of celebrations.


In October, we went away for a weekend in Bath, including a trip to Love Food Festival. I loved this, although having the children with us meant it wasn't quite as relaxing as the food festival I went to in April!!

October also included half term, and Halloween. We celebrated with rainy day activities, a spooky trip to Crealy, and spooky fun at my Mum's house.


November was another quiet month, but we did have Liam's Graduation ceremony to go to. Such a great day, despite the rain! :)


This month has been the busiest yet! We went to Bath for a weekend, to visit Bath Christmas Markets (and my Dad!!) and ended up buying lots of Christmas decorations!

I took part in the blogger Secret Santa, thanks to Laura at Keeping Healthy Getting Stylish.

My littlest sister celebrated her 16th birthday. We went out for a really nice meal to celebrate, including a huge dessert tower to share!

I did lots of baking in the run-up to Christmas, ready to give away as gifts.

I looked back at Christmas 2010 and then celebrated Christmas 2011!

Christmas 2010
Christmas 2011

Whew, I'm exhausted just looking at this last month! Luckily we've had a quiet few days this week to recover from it all?

What were your highlights from 2011? What are you looking forward to in 2012? I have a busy first week of 2012 to look forward to - my sister's birthday, Toby's birthday and my Mum's housewarming party are all happening next week!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

WIAW - Last Day of Treats

Hello! Happy What I Ate Wednesday! As you may have seen, Jenn isn't very well today, but she wants the party to go on, so go on it will! :-) I hope you feel better soon Jenn!

Did you all have a lovely Christmas? I did, and enjoyed lots of lovely treat foods alongside it! Enough was enough though, so today I have started focusing on eating more healthily again - I was actually missing green vegetables!

This post will be based on yesterday though - my last day of treats. I didn't actually end up eating as much as I thought I would as I've been battling a really bad cold the last few days, so after breakfast I hardly had any appetite until dinner. Not like me. What I did eat was delicious and/or treaty though! :)

For breakfast, I decided to use part of the present my little sister had given me. I was going to save them, and then decided that was a bit silly and why not just enjoy them then. So my breakfast was a pot of Lucky Charms (thanks Livs!) plus my normal latte...

Lucky Charms remind me of my childhood - when we used to go visit relatives in America. The last time I had any was when I was pregnant with Toby - my Dad had bought Olivia and I a box back each when he'd gone to the US on a business trip. An occasional treat!

There was then a long gap of feeling ill, with just a few snacks between the above and dinner. I wanted to eat up some of the best treats that I'd made (I can take or leave (sometimes!) shop-bought biscuits, but I didn't want to miss out on eating my homemade treats!) like Maria's Cranberry Coconut Spiced Nuts...

Sorry for the blurry pic - this was the best of many - I was too wobbly to take a decent photo!
and (not so homemade, I just love it!) marzipan...

There were also a few Thornton's chocolates (Thanks Sarah!) but nowhere near as much as I'd normally eat.

We then went to Waitrose to stock up on lots of fruit and veg. We also got some bargains - new potatoes and red cabbage for 10p, cherries for 39p etc - as they were reducing loads of soon-to-be out of date stuff. It was sad to see so much food that was food that was going to go to waste - Waitrose was pretty empty, and closing in an hour, and there was still 4 trolleys worth of produce that had to be sold that day! Anyway, as well as all the lovely healthy foods, we also bought dinner for last night. I had planned to cook something, but in the end I just felt too ill. Ready meal curry it was!

Curry always looks so unnattractive and, well, yellow. It tasted good though! Potatoes, cauliflower and spinach; lentil daal; pilau rice...and unpictured naan bread. This was actually better than takeaway curry in my opinion - less greasy, and cheaper too! Not as good as homemade, but a nice alternative when I'm too tired/ill to cook.

After dinner, I made up for not eating so much earlier in the day! I finished off the last of the (delicious) cream soda...

Liam gave me Christmas glasses as one of my gifts!

My Mum's homemade Christmas pudding with brandy butter...

This wasn't as good as previous years - a bit dry - probably because I asked my Mum to use vegetable suet...sorry family members!! I ate some of it and then ate the rest of the brandy butter with a warmed mince pie...

After this photo was taken, mess happened - lift up lid, insert brandy butter, re-close lid = melty, messy deliciousness!! :-D

And that, I think, was all I ate yesterday! There was probably also random picking that went undocumented - Liam keeps leaving his box of Celebrations lying around and I know that if I don't eat the Bounty and Snickers ones they will just sit there uneaten! We still have many many treat foods lying around the place, but I'm hoping that Liam will eat most of them! Izzy is only having 1 or 2 small sweet things a day (ie yesterday she had one Roses chocolate and one Christmas tree decoration) as I don't want a repeat of Christmas Day night. She's happy with that though, we bought her a magazine in Waitrose yesterday instead of sweets...not that we need any more sweets in the house even if she wasn't limiting sugar!!

Have you had enough of the Christmas treat foods yet or are you still enjoying extra treats? Did you, like us, end up having way too many chocolates/biscuits etc in your house this year? Every year it happens! We didn't even buy any chocolates ourselves this year - except one box of Roses that Toby gave Izzy - but between gifts from other people and all the baked goods I made, we ended up with way more food than we could possibly eat! We've prioritised the baked goods though - I had no problem eating all of the peanut butter truffles and spiced nuts and Liam is taking the last of the brownies into work for part of his lunch tomorrow. The boxes of chocolates can be opened slowly through the next few days weeks or so.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Christmas Day 2011

Hello! Happy Boxing Day! How was your Christmas?

Aside from all the lovely parts of Christmas, there's always something that sticks in my mind from each year. Christmas 2009 was the year I was 39 weeks pregnant with Toby and ginormous. Christmas 2010 was the year my Mum's oven broke on Christmas Eve so everyone had Christmas lunch at ours (and my Dad dropped the leftover turkey on the snowy pavement outside the house!). Christmas 2011 was the year that people were ill and I had no sleep.

There were still many good bits though, so let's focus on those! I last posted on Christmas Eve just before our "DVD night". We started the tradition last year that on Christmas Eve we all get new PJs and rent a DVD to watch. Izzy was really looking forward to it again this year.

We opened our PJs before Toby went to bed...

For some reason I was the only one who ended up with Christmassy PJs!

and then once he'd gone to bed we watched Tangled (Izzy's choice, Liam and I also watched Hangover 2 once she was asleep) and ate lots! :)

Baked Camemberts, baguette, carrots, grapes and caramelised onion chutney.
Toffee popcorn :)

After Tangled was finished, Izzy went to bed. Well, after she'd written notes for Santa and his elves that is!

I helped her with a few words for the "elves" letter, hence 'dire' changing to 'dear'!!

On Christmas Day morning, Toby had me awake at 5.15am. Yawn. We didn't go downstairs until Izzy woke at 6.30am (and then we woke Liam up too). Look what was waiting for the children downstairs...

Izzy was super excited to see what Santa had left, whereas Toby, same as last year, was more interested in the part-eaten carrot Rudolph had left behind!

Once we'd finished looking at all the little stocking presents, it was time for breakfast. Part-bake pain au chocolats (I buy them frozen from Waitrose, we normally have croissants too but apparently they sold out of those weeks ago!).

After breakfast, it was time to open the presents under the tree. Everyone seems to have different ways of doing presents at Christmas. Here, Santa leaves little, unwrapped, presents in the stockings and then the wrapped presents under the tree are from us and family/friends. Despite taking it in turns and opening the presents (I thought!) quite slowly, we were finished opening all our presents by 8.45am!! Shows how early we were up I guess!

Izzy received a Zhu Zhu play set from Liam's sister, and then more Zhu Zhus to go with it from us, my Mum and my expensive business keeping Zhu Zhus!! ;)
As you can see, we also gave her a Sleeping Beauty outfit which she immediately changed into and then stayed in for the rest of the day!
Toby loves his Mr Potato Head...thanks Sarah!

Once we'd finished opening presents, we spent the morning watching having children as an excuse to watch all my old favourite films!! :-D

At 11.30am, all of my family came round. My Mum had woken up on Christmas Day feeling really unwell (illness #1) yet still managed to carry on, cook Christmas lunch etc. She brought nibbles round to us too, despite not being able to face the thought of eating them herself, bless. Mum brought maple roasted sausages (my sister's favourite), blue cheese pate (leftover from our wedding) on pitta and a delicious avocado salsa to go with tortilla chips. I also set out some sweeter things to nibble at...

Love peanut M&Ms!

And then, after some Bucks Fizz, it was time for present round #2. Safe to say the children have no need for anymore new toys until next year!!

My Dad with Toby, who had just woken up from a nap so was a little bewildered!!
Closest we got to all looking at the camera!
Huge doll my Mum got Toby...uh, thanks?!! ;)
Izzy's doll from my Dad is thankfully considerably smaller!!

After my family had left, we headed over to Liam's parents' house for (late) Christmas lunch. Liam's Mum had bought me the nut roast wellington from Waitrose, which has goats cheese and apricot in the centre, yum! I also had roast potatoes and parsnips (all cooked in oil) and boiled carrots and leeks.

After lunch it was time for the 3rd and final round of present opening!

Liam's Dad with Toby
Liam's Mum and Nan (not the one who is still, unfortunately, in hospital)
Princess Izzy :)

The children were getting very tired, so we went back to ours about 5pm. I love having all our family so close by that we can see them without having to stay too long. Both children were in bed by 6pm, they'd been really good but it was a long day!

Once they were in bed, I made myself a snack plate of some of the leftover treats I made for gifts.

PB truffles, a brownie and cranberry coconut almonds...all delicious!

I also took a few photos of some of my favourite foodie presents to share with you all!

My littlest sister bought my present in Selfridges, aka American goodies!! I was so excited by these! My Mum did comment that not many people would get excited by Lucky Charms, but I love them!

Some brightly coloured chopping boards and bowls to go with our new knives...

and the River Cottage Veg Every Day cookbook from Liam's Mum...

plus lots of other lovely presents like tickets to see Phantom of the Opera from my Mum, gift cards, earrings and my new laptop which I am currently using - makes uploading presents a lot easier! We were all so lucky and received many generous presents. It was also really nice to spend so much time with family, a great day :)

Unfortunately, from about 8pm things took a turn for the worse. It is not uncommon for Izzy to play in her room after we've put her to bed, but when we heard her singing (!) I went to investigate. I crept up the stairs and quickly turned on the light, expecting to catch her playing. Instead I found her still in bed, cheeks soaking from crying :( she said she had an ear ache so we gave her calpol and persuaded her to try to go to sleep. No joy. In the end, both Liam and I stayed up with her until 11.30pm when she did drift off so we went to bed. Bearing in mind I'd been up at 5.15am, I passed out and Liam, bless him, got up a few times with Izzy from then until 3.30am. At 3.30 I took over and ended up "sleeping" in her room for the next 4 hours. Not that much sleeping happened - every 10 minutes or so she woke up to say either "my ear hurts Mummy", "I'm sorry Mummy", "I can't sleep Mummy" or the best one, at about 5 in the morning (!) "when are we going to take the Christmas tree down Mummy?" !!! At 7.15am I gave up and said she could play in her room, and I crawled back to bed. Next thing I knew I was waking up at 10am - Liam had taken the children downstairs so I could get a little sleep...thank you Liam!! :) Izzy seems ok today - still complaining of slight ear ache but not too bad. Both her and Toby have been asleep for the last 2 hours, she needed it! As well as the ear ache, I think she just ate way too much sugar yesterday. She was constantly picking at chocolates, toffee popcorn etc and Liam says that during his "shift" in the night, she was thrashing about, hitting her arms and legs on the walls etc because she was so agitated even when asleep. She's also now got lots of little red "spots" on her face so I'm guessing that's also related? I'm kind of glad Christmas only happens once a year!!

Despite the above paragraph though, I would call Christmas 2011 a big success. I just hope I get some sleep tonight!

What was your favourite part of Christmas Day? And what was your favourite present that you gave and/or received? I surprised Liam with a 6 month subscription to LoveFilm. It was a Groupon so I managed to buy it for really good value, and he is so happy. He loves watching films, and now understands why I kept trying to persuade him to ask relatives for things other than DVDs!!
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